I research, design, and guide meditation and personal growth practices and curriculums for a range of needs and contexts. I do this on my own, and – more fun – with collaborators around North America. Here’s a list of some current projects and partners.
The Consciousness Explorers Club
“Being Human Takes Practice”
I founded the Consciousness Explorers Club in 2011. We are now a 1400-person strong community of “meditators, celebrators and activators” in downtown Toronto. Every month my friends and I refine, invent and guide weird and wonderful and sometimes ridiculous practices for our community to explore. What kinds of practices? Select any month here for examples, also here. Our emphasis is always on pluralism, exploration and life-application, with a dual commitment to help people become more aware and to not take ourselves too seriously. Our most passionate belief is every culture and tradition around the world has something to teach us about how to become more human. For this reason, we also emphasize humanistic, literary and artistic practices. Right now, we’re the process of reinventing the CEC as a global resource for grass-roots community practice. To follow our progress, click here.
Earth Love Go
“Where Earth Activism Meets Spiritual Practice”
For the past five years, at the amazing Lama Foundation – an off-grid eco-mystery school high in the mountains of northern New Mexico – I’ve been collaborating on a curriculum to help environment and climate-focused teachers, professors and activists integrate contemplative and arts-based practices into their work. The idea is to help them deepen their own resilience, and to inspire new ideas and efforts. With the environmental politics professor Paul Wapner, multimedia artist Nicole Salimbene, deep ecologist David Abram, Zen priest and climate scientist Kritee Kanko and others. For more information about this program, check out our website, here.
“Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics”
Dan Harris and I became friends a few years ago, before his book, 10% Happier, became a mammoth bestseller. That book has helped make meditation accessible to non-spiritual types, and now his excellent app – which combines smart video explainers with guided meditation practices – is doing the same. I’ve done a couple meditations on election stress for them; a new course on “Exploring” is on its way. I especially like how they’re trying to break out of the sitting-with-eyes-closed-in-a-room format. This is applied meditation, for the world we live in.
Inward Bound Mindfulness Education
“Mindfulness Retreats for Teens”
I staffed my first Inward Bound mindfulness retreat outside Toronto in 2016, and plan to come back next year. For almost 30 years, Inward Bound have offered programming that “guides teens and young adults in developing self-awareness, compassion, and ethical decision making, and empowers them to apply these skills in improving their lives and communities.” I was surprised at how moving I found my experience there. The teens learn to trust their own instincts, to risk the vulnerability that comes with opening up. And then they try to sneak off and smoke weed in the forest. But they can’t hide from us – oh no – we know their devilish ways. Plus we have dogs.
Shinzen Young’s Home Practice Program
“Taking the mist out of mysticism”
I have a lot of gratitude for Shinzen Young. I’d been practicing meditation for a number of years before we met, but it hadn’t quite clicked: neither the worldview(s) of Buddhism – which seemed laden with jargon and competing assumptions – nor its techniques – which seemed either too vague, or too religiously sure of themselves. Shinzen was the first Buddhist teacher to accurately capture the complex experience of mindfulness meditation for me, and his command of different techniques and approaches showed me new ways in. He changed my life and hugely influenced how I teach. Now I lead the occasional session on Shinzen’s monthly Home Practice Program. It only costs $20, and can be done via Skype or phone, right in your living room. The program features many other excellent facilitators, and Shinzen himself leads sessions most months. Highly recommended, especially for nerds.
“A Mindfulness Program for Kids”
Kidevolve, a kid’s mindfulness program, was started by a smart former student Kirsten Chase, who was keen to bring the benefits of mindfulness to kids ages 5 – 10 (including her own kiddo). We are now developing a series of “Creative Mind Journeys” for the same broad age group. Our idea is to make fun stories that double as guided practices. Each story addresses a different challenge or opportunity, and helps listeners with a different underlying psycho-social-emotional skill. That way the kids can become big-hearted mental ninjas, and eventually fix the world we screwed up. Writing and performing these stories has been wildly fulfilling for me, probably because my maturity level is still down in the pre-teens somewhere. If you want, you can find a quite space with your kids and listen to a few of them here; more to come.